One of the most common concerns for parents of new babies, especially those born during spring and summer, surrounds sun protection. How do I keep my baby’s delicate skin safe from the sun and summer heat?
It’s an important question, especially here in Australia, where two out of three of us will be diagnosed with skin cancer before we turn 70. Childhood sunburn is particularly dangerous; a child who receives just one severe sunburn during childhood more than doubles their risk of getting skin cancer in later life.
So how do we keep our precious babies safe from the harsh Australian sun? It’s easy if you follow a few simple steps.
- Avoid the midday sun where possible. While it might be tempting to hit the beach in the middle of the day, UVA and UVB rays are strongest between 10am-4pm. By avoiding the sun during the hottest part of the day, you automatically decrease the risk of sunburn and heat-related issues.
- Dress appropriately. When visiting the beach, the park, or any sunny areas, dress your child in loose-fitting clothes made of natural fibres. Think long-sleeved cotton tops and loose fitting long pants, or a multi-purpose organic cotton poncho that can be thrown over any outfit. You don’t have to invest a lot in sun-safe clothes; one beach-appropriate outfit can be re-used throughout the summer, and if you size up, your child may be able to wear the clothes for more than one season.
- Make sure baby always wears a hat. Choose a hat with a wide brim, which will ensure your baby’s head, neck and shoulders are protected from the sun. Babies and young children are at a much higher risk of sunburn, so it’s a good idea to get them used to wearing a hat from an early age.
- Use sunscreen wisely. Babies under 6 months of age should avoid sunscreen as their skin is particularly thin and delicate. However paediatricians agree it’s fine to use a small amount of sunscreen on small exposed areas like the face.When selecting sunscreen for your little one, make sure you choose a broad spectrum product with SPF 30+ or higher. Avoid the chemical oxybenzone, which is easily absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause allergies and hormone disruption. Fortunately there are now a number of natural, zinc-based sunscreens available for babies and young children, including Eco All Natural’s Baby Sunscreen or MooGoo Natural Sunscreen.
- Finally, choose the right swimwear. Again, the high-coverage rule applies; go for long-sleeved swim suits and rashies that will keep your little ones covered from the sun. And remember to fit your car with a UV-filtering window shade, to protect your baby during travel to and from the beach.
Summer outings don’t have to be fraught with worry if you’re careful about sun safety. Enjoy those magical, memory-making days at the beach with a little help from our Elves.